Sunday, July 31, 2016

More Shocking News

 The last time we talked I told you about the air ride suspension that I've installed on my 2015 Ultra Limited. I mentioned a leak and a faulty switch. I found and fixed the leak. Now I can inflate the shocks and find them still full of air the next day. I emailed Dirtyworks LLC and told them about the switch. Three days later I had two of them sitting on my bench. That's good service and I wanted to tell you that. So far any contact I've had with them has been positive.
 The setup is good and the ride is better than the stock air shocks. I can let some air out and easily flat foot the bike. I feel almost as confident at a stop on this bike as I do on something smaller like the sportster. When I ordered the kit I also had them send me an air gauge. I figure once I find pressures that work for me I'll just be able to air up or down to that predetermined pressure. The problem was finding a good place to mount a gauge without it looking like ass. When I do a project like this my plan is always to be able to put the bike back into stock form if things don't work out. With this in mind I found some space for a gauge in the left radiator pod.

 A new face plate for the pod was cut out of 1/8" steel but the real challenge would be to hide the air hose and some wiring.
 From this angle it looks like the hole I drilled just runs right out the side of the pod but in fact the hole is hidden in a recess behind the crash bar.

  Here is the finished plate and gauge. If you look close at the area under the gauge you can see two small lights, a green one and an orange. The green comes on when the compressor is running, just cuz I like to know whats going on. The orange one is for a future project. I want to add a micro switch to the swing arm/suspension and have that light come on just before the shock is bottomed out. This will help me set a low ride height for parking lot situations.

 So thats it for now. We've put several hundred miles on the new far so good. One side effect I wasn't expecting was the attention we get when parking and dumping the air from the system. Just another ice breaker to start a motorcycle conversation with a complete stranger. I'll post updates as they happen.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Shocking News

 "Shocking News" was just the bait. A more accurate title would have been "news about shocks" but I knew I had to set the hook before any attempt of reeling you in.

 You know, I really like my Ultra. It has a lot of features, handles two up riding pretty well and has decent torque. The one thing I don't like is that its a whale of a bike. It handles fine rolling down the road but when I have to stop or do some parking lot maneuvers I feel a bit uneasy. I figure its only a matter of time before I lose my footing and tip the dang thing over. If that happens I'm not sure how easily I could right the machine. Not because I'm a total puss but because since my back surgery a lift like this would leave me suffering for a week.
 My options include cutting the seat, buying big heeled boots or making changes to the suspension. I did buy new boots and they did help a bit but I'd need KISS boots to really make a difference. I still like their music but the costumes really are out of fashion.
 Cutting the seat isn't an option either. Its an aftermarket heated seat and there's no way I'm hacking away at it with a carving knife.
 That leaves the suspension. There are a lot of manufacturers offering a 1" lowering kit for the stock rear shocks. That would certainly help but I think I want more. I like the idea of slamming the ass to the ground so I can easily mount/dismount and duck walk the bike.

 I could have ordered individual parts from different manufacturers but decided to go with a kit from Dirtyworks LLC. The kit I bought consists of a pair of air shocks, compressor, air tank, valving and associated hoses, switches and wiring. The kit was complete except for whatever protective wire loom I decide to add after the install. Their customer service appears to be good as they were quick to answer questions before the purchase and quick to respond when I had an issue with a switch that was giving me grief.
 The compressor is mounted on the right side of the bike between the wheel and saddlebag.

 The "fast up" air tank is mounted on the left side. This tank allows the bike to be raised in a little over a second, opposed to the long wait for just the compressor alone to pump up the shocks.

 I guess I could have zoomed in on this pic a bit but I've mounted a relay, the lift solenoid and the dump solenoid behind the side cover. The all fit quite nicely.
 So how does it work? The ride is great, when there's air in the shocks. My wife and I both agree the ride is much smoother but I had a leak in the system and all the air would sneak out and then if we hit a bump it was a major ouch. I don't know how those guys ride hard tails without blowing out their backs. For me, it was nice to be able to dump a bunch of air as I rolled into town or a parking lot and confidently put a leg down at stops. More testing is required and I have a plan in place to add an air gauge so I can air up or down to preset pressures depending on what type of riding I'll be doing.
 If this looks like something that may interest you, I should warn you that this is a kit. Not every piece has a set install location. You need to make some of these decisions on your own. All the pieces are there, you just need to decide how to best install them on your bike. I did order the special brackets for my bike to mount the air tank and compressor. They mount very solid on the lower fender strut but that's a problem if you have "filler" lights on the back of the bike. I removed the lights for now but I'll have to come up with a solution for the mounts.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

More Sportster Crap

 I had a few minutes to scab the broken frame ends back onto the sportster. A cheapo welding blanket from Harbor Freight covered the bike nicely while I welded and used the grinder.

 I decided this was the quickest way to get the bike back on the road even though these frame ends may still get cut back off at some point.

 So this is where I'm at now.  I slapped the tool bag on the back because the plate was already bolted to it and the bracket I ordered wasn't here yet.

 Now I can use the bike again. I found out I don't want to ride it on wet roads unless I don't mind the top of my head getting wet. Part of me wants to build a hot looking bar hopper kind of bike but the practical side doesn't want anything to do with that idea. I didn't even have a way to haul lunch on this thing and that's why the butt ugly tank bag is on there.
 Today we ride. Hi temp today should be in the low 90's with a heat index in the hundreds. Hot and sticky with pop up thunder storms to cool us down. The Ultra has some new goodies on it that need to be tested and you'll get a full report next time I post.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Sportster Maintenance

 The last time I posted here I reported that the frame was cracked on the sportster. The pics weren't that great but today I can show you a better view of what I meant.

 For the non gear heads reading this I'll point out a few facts that the more mechanically inclined viewers are thinking.
 *Those small holes in the top of the frame that each crack runs through didn't help the situation.
 *The bottom pic is the side that was welded while on vacation last year. That weld held.
 *The way I mounted this heavy sissy bar almost made this break inevitable.
 I knew that when I mounted it but I didn't want the frame to break forward of the shock mount. I could weld this and maybe beef it up some, them remount the sissy bar but I don't think I will. I'm ready for a change even though I'm not yet sure what that change should be.

 Removing the tail lights and plate lights was easy. I kinda planned for this situation and everything was wired with plugs and posilocs so it could come apart in the field. Never mind that rats nest of wires, its all good.

Before removing the bar.

 This is after removing the bar and the rear half of the fender. When I bobbed the rear fender I didn't just cut off the rear section to the length I wanted, oh no. I cut the fender and tucked all the excess under the front section of fender, leaving just a few inches stick out. Now all I have to do is remove that rear section and I still have enough fender left to keep the underside clean.

 This is where I am right now. There's a hundred different ways I could go from here and I have some big decisions to make. When I put this sporty together the plan was for some long distance riding and the ability to haul stuff. I have the Ultra for that now so...anything goes. I'll wire in some tail lights and ride it like this for a while till I decide.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sportster 10k Update

  I have about ten thousand miles on the sportster frame up big bore build and really haven't had to do much but change the oil, replace the tires and replace a few worn out toggle switches. I had a few minutes yesterday to mess around with it and wanted to give the bike a once over.
 The first thing I noticed was some engine paint wasn't sticking and flaked off. No big deal, it was a fizz can job anyway. I thought the primary chain case oil was low because there was no longer a spot of oil under the bike in the mornings but I think I just had it over full from the start and it was leaking by the clutch cable.
 The next thing I looked at was the chain. The inside of the link plates is wearing on one side and I'm sure this is an alignment issue. I converted a belt drive engine to mate with the rear chain sprocket and I suppose its just not perfect. Then again maybe its just worn. I put 10k on this chain and it had unknown mileage before I got it.

 So the other day I went over a set of rail road tracks that jammed the bike pretty hard. I heard a "POP" and now every time I hit a bump I hear a squeak. I pretty much knew the frame snapped at the sissy bar mount because this has happened before. What I didn't know was that the frame broke on both sides. These breaks are aft of the rear shock mounts but still could create a disaster.
 Having a broken frame really limits the amount of shenanigans I can get into. Whats the point of having a sportster if yer not gonna ride it like you stole it? I talked about this bike going through some changes and it looks like that will have to happen sooner than later.
 The timing on this break down is a little bad. I just ordered some goodies for the Ultra and their install may have it out of commission for a few days. Not that these parts take that long to install, but because I'll probably do it one or two hours at a time in the evenings after work.
 So what will the sportster morph into? Cafe racer? Chopper? Another rat bike? Maybe a quickie hack just to get it back on the road? I'm not sure but I know I want to reuse the eagle.
 Just because I want to reuse it doesn't mean it has to be on this bike. I've had this thought about giving him a lower beak, boxing in the neck area and creating a tail pipe for the Rat Turd. We'll see.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Too Much Rain

 The Tuesday morning routine started with a quick check of the radar so I would know how to dress for the ride into work. Once I saw what mother nature had in mind I thought maybe it wouldn't kill me to take the truck this time.
 I opened the garage door to confirm. The eagle and I assessed the situation and pussed out. Neither one of us wanted get soaked to the bone before a full day of work.

 As fate would have it, the rain ended early in the morning, the sun came out and it was hot all day. I was pissy for not riding in to work but when I caged it home I knew there would be an evening dinner ride in my future.

 The sun was shining and the temps were warm. We had a nice ride to a restaurant a few towns to the north. Upon arrival my wife saw some flowers she deemed pic worthy. This is me waiting patiently for her to finish up.

 Some rum for my wife and soda for me. After a visit to the bar our table was ready. If you follow this blog at all you know I like to be able to keep an eye on the bike while dining. Its cheap security.

 After a nice meal and a lazy ride home I decided it was time to sample some oddball beers my wife won for me at a local beer tasting event, the Princeton Brew Ha Ha. Factoid: Princeton Wisconsin was once in the Guiness Book of World Records for having the most bars per capita.

 Sip, gag, dump down the sink. None of these beers in the back ground did it for me and my wife got a good laugh out of the stupid faces I was making after each sample. I had to cleanse my palette with the Lite in the fore ground. I guess I'm set in my ways.
 Food for thought. If a crappy day ends well, was it really a crappy day?  If a good day ends poorly, does that make the whole day a crap fest? Does any of this even matter?


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Popping Hostas

 Its always been my point of view that if you feel like shit you might as well go to work and get paid to feel lousy. The other day I was feeling a little weak but hopped on the sporty and headed to work anyway. The bike must not have been feeling well either because halfway there it began spitting and sputtering, I swung a u turn and headed back home for another machine.
 My supply of road worthy bikes is down to one from three. I blame it on dry weekends. The first crap weather weekend will be dedicated to bike maintenance rather than road tripping. I rolled the big Ultra out of the garage and headed to work.
 Wrench on some chainsaws, run to the bathroom, repeat. Not a very glamorous topic for todays blog but we've all been there. By noon I had enough and went home. I can't remember the last time I didn't work because of illness but I suppose it happens about once maybe twice a year. I also can't remember the last time I've rode home from work in such a hurry!
 I decided the best way to rest was to ease back in my lazyboy, turn on some boring television for background noise and drift away. The television was tuned to one of them oldies channels. I hate calling them oldies because they are all shows from my youth. I was half alert and half asleep while those old shows triggered a lot of memories from my youth. One of the biggest memories revisited during this nap was that of popping hostas.

 I know, what the hell? Dreaming about popping hastas? Nothing about riding bicycles, building forts or bb guns. I must have also had a fever. Maybe I just miss the simple days of being a kid. I do remember it was fun running around finding just the right flower to squeeze before someone else found it. POP! Oh that was a good one. The memory is vivid as I'm writing this shortly after waking from the dream. Innocent kids without a care in the world. No knowledge of evil, bills or responsibility. Gotta love it.
 The next day when I staged the pic you see here, things weren't the same. No happy memories. No searching for the next victim to pop. I did think about how these weeds need to be pulled and the walk should be edged. Definitely not the same. The more I think about it the more I think the dream had something to do with missing my mom.

 In motorcycle related news, it's been a few days since the "sick day" and now back on earth the sporty is running again. A while back the key switch took a shit. In a pinch I replaced it with a cheap toggle switch and that switch just took a crap. I put another $5 switch in there hoping I will get another years use out of it. No big deal if it fails because hot wiring it would only take a minute or two. At some point I'm thinking that bike will morph into something a bit different and the power switch setup will change again. Morph into what? I dunno. The point is that I have enough bikes here to change things up every so often without bringing new iron into the garage. The BSA is proof of that. I haven't touched it since the last time I posted about it here.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Too Much Wind

 Too much wind? Is that even possible? You're probably thinking the whole point of being on a bike is to get in touch with mother nature. Well I agree that the exposure to the elements is a big part of what I like about motorcycles. The problem is that I'm finicky. I like my wind a certain way. On the sportster, without a windshield, the wind flows right into my face just the way I like it. My beard flows back and doesn't flap in my eyes. Bugs have a direct shot at my face. Rain slamming against sunburnt cheeks stings like someone is hitting me with a sandblaster. Oddly enough I enjoy this as part of the overall experience.
 On the Ultra the wind doesn't have a direct shot at me. The bat wing fairing blocks the wind, or has deflectors that pull it toward my chest. Bugs just splat and never hit my face. The radiator pods redirect the wind around my legs. This is part of the "all day" touring experience and I like this too but there is one other source of wind that finds its way to my head. That rogue air comes from under the fairing and then launches itself over the top of the fuel tank. The only problem with that little dose of mother nature is the fact it raises hell with my vision. Hows that you ask? Well it blows my beard forward and up. The longer the beard, the worse it gets. Add some beard oil for control and I end up with oily glasses. So, to eliminate this...
I've added this...
 What your looking at is the Kuryakyn lower triple tree wind deflector. Ya, crappy pic and I know I should have taken a before pic. I bought this in hopes of some kind of beard control.  Does it work? Well I guess the answer has to be yes. I still get air flow from that area but its stifled a bit. Just enough that I don't have facial hair slapping my sun glasses. As for engine cooling, I don't think it will be an issue with the liquid cooled heads on the "twin cooled" Harley.
 That's it. Now you know why I was so wound up about wind control.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Stress Relief

 Wednesdays plan was to sneak out of work early and meet my wife in Oshkosh. The problem came when I was stuck in the showroom with a customer. I say stuck but I followed through helping the customer with my usual cheery attitude.  Anxiety was setting in because I knew I would be late for my appointment. I hate that. Finally I was able to wrap things up and head out. Throwing a leg over the sporty felt good. I pulled the choke, thumbed the starter and made tracks. Immediately I started feeling better. No sense of urgency like before. Oh sure I was still running late but I know how to make time on a bike and still relax. The weather was very cooperative and everything felt right. It's amazing how a good bike ride can erase a day of bullshit.

 Traffic is gonna suck out there this weekend. Be alert. Our plan is to ride toward the Mississippi river and get lost. We're packing a bag just in case we get really lost.